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A systematic review of the application of interactive virtual reality to sport

Abstract

Virtual reality (VR) technology is being increasingly used by athletes, coaches, and other sport-related professionals. The present systematic review aimed to document research on the application of VR to sport to better understand the outcomes that have emerged in this work. Research literature databases were searched, and the results screened to identify articles reporting applications of interactive VR to sport with healthy human participants. Twenty articles were identified and coded to document the study aims, research designs, participant characteristics, sport types, VR technology, measures, and key findings. From the review, it was shown that interactive VR applications have enhanced a range of performance, physiological, and psychological outcomes. The specific effects have been influenced by factors related to the athlete and the VR system, which comprise athlete factors, VR environment factors, task factors, and the non-VR environment factors. Important variables include the presence of others in the virtual environment, competitiveness, task autonomy, immersion, attentional focus, and feedback. The majority of research has been conducted on endurance sports, such as running, cycling, and rowing, and more research is required to examine the use of interactive VR in skill-based sports. Additional directions for future research and reporting standards for researchers are suggested.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Cohen’s kappa for the decisions to exclude or include based on title and abstract (Step 1) was κ = 0.64 and based on review of full article (Step 2) was κ = 0.69, both of which fall within the guidelines for substantial agreement. Full agreement was reached at each step following discussion.

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Correspondence to David L. Neumann.

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Neumann, D.L., Moffitt, R.L., Thomas, P.R. et al. A systematic review of the application of interactive virtual reality to sport. Virtual Reality 22, 183–198 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10055-017-0320-5

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Keywords

  • Virtual reality
  • Sport
  • Exercise
  • Systematic review